NY nurse in $1.5M COVID vax scam blames ‘government mandates’

A Long Island nurse who raked in $1.5 million selling fake vaccine cards during the COVID-19 pandemic pleaded guilty on Friday to forgery and money laundering. 

Julie DeVuono, 51, is expected to avoid jail, but must forfeit $1.2 million in criminal proceeds, do 840 hours of community service, surrender her license to practice, and shut down her pediatric business, Kids-on-Call.

“This defendant used her position as a nurse practitioner to circumvent the law by uploading false information into New York state-wide databases,” said Suffolk County District Attorney Ray Tierney.

“The defendant’s abuse of authority preyed upon the fears and mistrust of the public during the COVID shutdown to forge COVID cards for the vaccine she never administered, in pursuit of no other purpose than her own enrichment.”

DeVuono’s guilty plea comes after two co-defendants originally charged in the scheme, Marissa Urraro, a licensed practical nurse, and receptionist Brooke Hogan reached a secret agreement to testify against their ex-boss, The Post learned.

Tierney’s spokesmen would not discuss their cases, which are sealed.

DeVuono’s Wild Child Pediatric Center in Amityville received free shipments of 3,174 vaccine doses through the federal CDC.

Employees charged customers $220 to $350 for each dose falsely marked on a vax card for adults — and $85 for kids — then tossed the vaccine in the trash.

DeVuono laundered $236,980 from the scheme to pay off the mortgage on a home she shared with her husband, an NYPD cop, according to the DA.

DeVuono “accepted responsibility for her role and participation in administering fake vaccination cards,” her lawyer Steven Gaitman told The Post.

But vaccine mandates “interfered with our individual liberties and freedom of choice in making medical decisions,” he added. “While not excusing Julie’s conduct, this government intervention fostered and created the very issue in which Julie was complicit.”

The DA’s office refused to say whether any customers who bought the fake vax cards face criminal charges.

After the DA arrested DeVuono in January 2022, the Special Commission of Investigation for City Schools gave the city Department of Education the names of 92 employees who claimed they got vaccinated at Wild Child, citing “a high probability” that they had submitted false proof, records show.

The DOE suspended those employees without pay in April 2022, but later returned them to the city payroll, following lawsuits and union complaints of removal without due process.

The DOE “had no right to criminalize every person who went to Wild Child,”  said Betsy Combier, a paralegal who helped defend 30 of the accused teachers.

“The educators in the case I worked on all got vaccinated and did not defraud the department,” she said.